BOSTON (AP) — Once 0-6, the Boston Red Sox are rolling.
Carl Crawford hit a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth to lift Boston to its season-high sixth straight win, 4-3 over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night.
“I think we’re just playing the game well,” said Jed Lowrie, who was part of the ninth-inning rally that extended Boston’s longest winning streak since last June.
It was more thrilling than it had to be for the Red Sox, whose bullpen couldn’t hold a 3-1 lead after starter Josh Beckett left with stiffness in his neck before the seventh inning.
Listen to Carl Crawford’s postgame interview
Daniel Bard allowed back-to-back homers to Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera in the eighth. Jonathan Papelbon (2-0) got the win after pitching a scoreless, but hectic ninth, then the Red Sox came through against Al Alburquerque (0-1) in the bottom half.
J.D. Drew and David Ortiz each homered for Boston and Beckett pitched six solid innings. He was pulled before the seventh with tightness in his neck as the Red Sox took no chances on the cool, misty night.
“It got stiff, then it got stiffer and that’s not something to mess around with,” manager Terry Francona said. “He’ll be OK.”
The Red Sox next host the Chicago Cubs when interleague play begins Friday in the first meeting between the two teams at Fenway since the 1918 World Series.
Justin Verlander went eight innings, striking out nine and holding the Red Sox to six hits and no walks. But two of the hits were solo homers by Ortiz and Drew and. The Tigers’ offense didn’t help much, either, stranding 10 runners.
“We’re just not doing a good enough job of taking advantage of our scoring opportunities,” manager Jim Leyland said.
Kevin Youkilis walked leading off the ninth and Boston brought in pinch-runner Jose Iglesias, who went to third when Ortiz hit a single to right through the Tigers’ infield shift. Detroit walked Drew to load the bases with nobody out and Lowrie hit a blooper to shallow left. But Andy Dirks threw home in time to force the first out.
“That probably doesn’t happen often,” Lowrie said. “At the end of the day we got the result we wanted.”
Darnell McDonald replaced Ortiz as a pinch-runner at third and had an easy trot home when Crawford lined a ball to center field.
Papelbon got himself in trouble in the ninth, allowing consecutive singles to Brandon Inge and Austin Jackson, then walked Scott Sizemore to load the bases with one out. Papelbon struck out Boesch on three pitches, then got Cabrera swinging to keep it tied.
Boesch led off the eighth with a homer to right off Bard. Cabrera followed with a drive over the Green Monster to tie it at 3-all.
Drew drove a 1-0 pitch to the seats in deep right field. Ortiz’s shot through the fog in the seventh carried over the Tigers’ bullpen and put the Sox up 3-1.
“He’s got great stuff,” Ortiz said. “You’ve got to make sure that when he gives you something to hit you don’t waste it.”
Beckett was pulled after only throwing 83 pitches. On the cool, wet night the Red Sox weren’t about to risk losing another starting pitcher. Boston put both John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list already this week with right elbow strains.
Trying to fill the holes on the staff, the Red Sox, after the game, announced they agreed to a minor league contract with Kevin Millwood and acquired left-hander Franklin Morales from Colorado for a player to be named or cash.
Beckett’s only inning of trouble was the second, when he walked Cabrera to start. Victor Martinez followed with a single to right, then after a fly out to short left, Dirks drove in Cabrera with a single to put the Tigers up 1-0. The Tigers had the bases loaded with one out, but Beckett stopped the damage by getting Inge and Jackson to fly out.
Drew tied it with a sacrifice fly in the second.
NOTES: Verlander struck out Boston’s top three batters after allowing a leadoff single to Jason Varitek in the third. … A steady rain that had been falling in Boston let up about half an hour before gametime. … Dirks’ RBI single in the second ended Beckett’s career-long scoreless innings streak at 19. … The manual scoreboard in left field had “Go Bruins” spelled out before the game, which was scheduled to start an hour before the Bruins visited the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the NHL Eastern Conference finals. … Tigers’ 3B Inge turned 34 Thursday.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)